England hooker Dylan Hartley has denied stamping on Bok back-row Duane Vermeulen during Saturday’s clash at Twickenham.
England hooker Dylan Hartley has denied stamping on Springbok back-row Duane Vermeulen during Saturday’s clash at Twickenham.
Hartley was yellow carded for his offence which occurred an hour in to the game which South Africa won 31-28. Vermeulen was at the bottom of an England maul which saw Hartley’s boot coming down heavily on Vermeulen’s knee.
Referee Steve Walsh awarded a penalty initially but the television match official indicated that it was a yellow card offence.
Hartley defended his actions by stating that there was no malicious intent from him.
“I’m furious at myself,” he wrote in his column for The Sun.
“I hope people won’t blame me for another narrow defeat.
“It took referee Steve Walsh and the TMO a couple of looks at the incident before they decided it warranted a yellow card. I’ve replayed it a dozen times in my mind and I still think it was borderline.
“Given the number of eyes on you these days – and the fact that everything always looks ten times worse in slow motion – treading on him was probably a daft thing to do.
“But I would also say it happens plenty of times in club games and even in internationals – and it does go unpunished.”
Hartley believes Vermeulen wasn’t entirely innocent during the incident.
“Vermeulen was clearly trying to pull down our maul,” he added.
“And, when he didn’t manage it, he decided to cling on to us to make as much of a nuisance of himself as he could.
“I shoved at him a couple of times to make him get out of the way. But when he refused to move it was a case of ‘OK, if you want to stay there, we’ll have to go over you, not around you’.
“I think that hesitation showed it was not malicious. I swear there was no malice in what I did. I didn’t stamp on him, I stood on him. There is a huge difference.
“And if I had been in the same situation as Vermeulen – deliberately trying to impede the other team’s progress – I wouldn’t have expected them to tiptoe around me.”
Although the yellow card did not prove too costly, on the scoreboard, it is clear that Hartley still feels some responsibility for the loss.
“I do feel bad about putting my team-mates under the added pressure of having to play for ten minutes a man short and they know how sorry I am for putting them in that situation,” he explained.
“I definitely owe my team-mates a big vote of thanks that we didn’t allow South Africa to do what we did when Victor Matfield was in the bin – when we scored two converted tries from rolling mauls.
“I would have been inconsolable if that had happened.”